pasta alla checca with fennel

The flavours of this really sum up Italy for me, it’s a really fresh delicious pasta recipe which dates back to the sixties in Rome, the area where my Italian family come from. There’s lots of versions but my favourite has ground fennel in it which I love, I grind the seeds in my coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle so it’s super fresh. Its the perfect dinner for al fresco dining and you can add a burrata on top, or fried capers. I just serve it with a salad.


Ingredients for 4

4 large ripe tomatoes

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 level tsp of ground fennel seeds

500g of dried pasta (I made mine with Calamarata) but any pasta you fancy works


Firstly chop the tomatoes into small cubes and leave them in a colander for about an hour to lose some of their liquid. I stir it occasionally.

Chop the parsley and basil and set aside.

Next put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan, and gently fry the garlic, chilli flakes, some of the chopped basil and some of the parsley for about a minute. Now add the tomatoes and the ground fennel and stir gently and season with salt to taste. Put a lid on and simmer very gently for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet till al dente and drain.

Add the pasta to the sauce and stir.

Serve with the remaining chopped parsley and basil on top and a drizzle more olive oil if you fancy. If you want a more fennely taste, sprinkle on a tiny bit more. You can also add gratings of parmesan or pecorino if you fancy too.

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